Chocolate Moose

Maggie Kneen, Illustrator
Maggie Kneen, Dutton, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-42202-0
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Filled with chocolate goodies and a sweet sentimentality, Kneen's story stars a large moose who is hired at the bakery of a tiny mouse family after he misreads a sign that says "Wanted: One Mouse." Looking as cuddly as a giant stuffed animal, Moose squeezes through the door of Mrs. Mouse's bakery—"Squish, squiggle, squeak!"—and chaos ensues. Moose eats chocolate when Mrs. Mouse isn't looking, makes oversize sandwiches for her little ones ("Mice have only very small teeth, you know," she tells him), spills pancake batter everywhere, and knocks chocolate chip cookies off the shelf—frustrating Mrs. Mouse but delighting her fussy children. Kneen's (Little Snow Goose) illustrations exude a cozy brand of slapstick humor, and the book's conflict is resolved when Mrs. Mouse decides to have Moose babysit so she can handle the bakery herself. The detailed, soft artwork and palette create a gentle counterpart to the plainspoken text, which is enclosed in complementary pastel borders. Both text and art provide a loving model of a working mother who makes sure her little ones are cared for with a "Cuddle, nuzzle, snuggle." Ages 3–5. (Jan.)
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